We arrived at Aberdeen late in the afternoon after a very uneventful drive of 100 miles through agricultural country.
Aberdeen is the largest and best city I have yet seen in Scotland. It may not be quite as large as Glasgow, but it is very much cleaner and better in many ways.
For the first time on our trip we went to an entertainment. Since leaving London three weeks ago we have not been to a picture show or any other form of entertainment except the Glasgow Exhibition. To-night we went to see Harry Gordon’s entertainments at the beach pavilion and they were very good It started at 9 p.m. and went straight through till 11 o’clock.
The next day was Sunday and as it was again raining hard we decided to make it an easy day and have a rest. The girls went to church and I spent the day getting my photos and writing up to date. It is now a few minutes to midnight and I will leave the story until we see what the weather is like in the morning. At present it is pouring with rain and I have already set the alarm for 6.30 so that I can get up and see the fish markets which are the largest in the world. If it is going to be wet and I cannot get these photos. I might not bother to go. This will be disappointing, as it is to see these markets in operation that we stayed here until to-morrow morning.
Monday morning was bright and sunny and we were up early to get to the markets as arranged.
During the night many of the fishing trawlers had come into port and there was a much larger collection of these boats than I had ever seen previously, either in real life or pictures. Around the three sides of the big dock these boats were packed close together and touching one another.
I scrambled about the docks trying to get photos. and also went on board several of the boats, but I still could not get the photo. I wanted – one which would show most of them in a single line.
The fish markets are built around the docks and the boats discharge their cargo of fish right into the markets. This work was going on when we arrived just after seven o’clock.
The fish were laid out in proper order for size, and kind, by men who were experienced in the work.
The small fish were all in boxes holding about 30 lbs. each. There were more kinds of fish than I had ever dreamed of. I asked the names of many, but it was impossible to remember them and get the photo at the same time.
Some of the fish were large white ones from the North sea and they were at least six feet long. There were flat fish like our flounder which varied in size from about 6”to 2 feet in length. There were other flat fish which I had never seen before.
I walked from one end of the markets to the other and I seemed to be walking for many minutes looking upon tons of fish laid out for sale.
I got into conversation with an officer who appeared to be a kind of inspector, as he was wearing a uniform. He told me the Aberdeen fish markets were the largest in Scotland and the third largest in the world. The trawling boats are mostly of the same type and did excellent work in mine laying during the war. The boats leave port and may only be away for a couple of days, whereas on other occasions they may be absent for a fortnight. When they are going on a long cruise they have to carry about 15 tons of ice so that the fish can be kept fresh. They have approximately 2,000 boats each month arriving at Aberdeen loaded with fish.
I saw hundreds of tons of these on the morning of my visit.
When the fish is sold it goes to the local markets as fresh fish – it is dried, smoked, salted, kippered and tinned for every town in the British Isles and many places overseas. The waste from the factories is turned into fish meal for the feeding of stock. Last but by no means least, an oil is produced from the livers of Halibut, which is so rich in vitamins that a drop is equivalent to a spoonful of other oils. This is in addition to the ordinary cod liver oil which is also made in Aberdeen. Yes, and I almost forgot another item which was not mentioned. It is the manufacture of glue. Fish glue is a by-product of the industry which means a great deal for Aberdeen.
Without their fish Aberdeen would not be nearly so prosperous.
It was nine o’clock before I started on my return journey. I had to walk from one end of the markets to the other to reach the car. When I left my inspector friend I was at the far end where they were still landing fish to be sold. When I was a little more than half-way back I met the crowds of auctioneers and buyers hard at their job. It was like bedlam let loose. I did not wait, but passed on quickly, otherwise I was going to miss my breakfast. When I got to the end of the markets the fish were being loaded into lorries after having been sold to the various buyers and in most cases the floor was clear. Here a man with a hose very much like a fire hose was washing down the floor so that it would be ready the next morning for he same business. It was most interesting, and we were all very glad we stayed the extra time in Aberdeen to see it.
After breakfast we drove through the town once more on our way further south. We could not help comparing the granite buildings with those of the other Scotch towns.
Aberdeen is famous for its granite. All of the large buildings of the city are built of a very white granite and all the homes and similar buildings are built of a granite of a light grey colour. They all look very bright glistening in the sun after the heavy rains. The old cathedral is the only one in the whole world which is built entirely of granite.